“If We Get New Generations to Enter the Feminist Movement…It Will be Different, It Will be Fantastic”: Youth Gender Justice Activism in Peru and Ecuador.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:09
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Anna-Britt COE, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Darcie VANDEGRIFT, Drake University, Department for the Study of Culture & Society, USA
This paper focuses on youth feminist political action in Ecuador and Peru and its relationship to professionalized adult feminism. In Latin America, social movements are crucial democratizing forces not only due to their influence on civic and political society but also because they constitute sites of struggle over meanings and practices of inclusion, participation and citizenship. Feminist movements are no exception. Social divides based on class, “race” and ethnicity have generated important debates within Latin American feminisms, yet age and generational divides remain less visible.

In Peru and Ecuador, a new generation of feminism has emerged among youth initially mobilized by professional adult feminism. However, whereas professionalized adult feminism seeks changes to government policies, youth gender justice activism seeks changes to cultural discourses and practices, especially in the family, intimate partnerships and household. In this sense, young feminists have more in common with youth in general in Latin America than professionalized adult feminists. Our paper aims to clarify why this is the case by drawing upon a grounded theory study among 21 youth gender justice activists.

We found that youth activists developed new ways of perceiving political action in response to exclusionary processes within professionalized adult feminism and contradictory processes within gender equality policies. Exclusionary processes consisted of professionalized adult feminists defining “the movement” on the basis of their own organizational structures, thereby preventing young women from joining the movement on equal terms and hindering young men from being included. These exclusionary processes were exacerbated by professionalized adult feminism’s strategic emphasis on government policies. Youth activists perceived three contradictory processes within government gender equality policies: inconsistent policy approaches and implementation, institutional practices upholding gender hierarchies, and demobilization/de-politicization of civil society. We discuss these findings in relation to current theorizing of feminist and youth movements in Latin America.